It’s been some months since I last posted here. Not because I haven’t had anything to say, but because I have wanted to say anything. Maintaining a blog is hard work. Or it can be. Sufficiently hard enough in fact, that sometimes you just get the shits with it and want to pack the whole thing in, hit the delete button and send the whole damn thing off to cyberheaven.
But I didn’t. I left it alive. Or in a coma (yes, a coma is technically alive).
So why bother to post again? Because I have been inspired. When I started my original blog back in ‘aught nine, I want to document my journey to a)keep myself honest and b)hopefully, possibly, maybe inspire others. Over the last couple of years I’ve lost touch with that to some degree but on the weekend, I was inspired (or inspirated if you’re an MKR fan). Not by a race, but by a person. Not by anyone famous, but by this guy.
Now I’ve never met this guy before in my life, but he is my hero.
On the weekend this big guy completed the Geelong Long Distance Triathlon. That’s a 1.9km swim, a 90km ride and a half marathon run. And since I was doing it too, I got to see him. And without a single word or look of acknowledgement to my existence, he got me to the end. Just by being out there. Just by the sheer virtue of the fact that he was having a go. Just by the sheer fact that this big guy who was probably twice the size I have ever been was doing what I was thinking about packing in. I was hurting. My back ached and my nipples were bleeding (yes, I said nipples). I was being a sooky lala little bitch and then I saw this guy who I imagined was in a world of hurt deeper and more insane than anything I could conjure. And I stopped complaining. I stopped playing mind games with myself and just got on with it.
Because if that guy can do it. So can I.
Since my last post, not a lot has happened. Despite assurances (to myself), I slacked off and let my swimming and riding suffer over the winter. I kept up my running to some degree, but not as much as I’d have liked. Despite that, I managed to set a PB at the 2012 City2Surf, and then ran a sub 70 minute time for the 2012 City2Sea (the Melbourne sister event to the City2Surf). All I cared about in Melbourne was qualifying for the red start group for the 2013 City2Surf. And with a sub70 time, I did it (unless the organisers drop the qualifying time again, which they did in 2012).
Having achieved a running goal, I switched my focus back to triathlons with a goal to the Canberra Half Ironman in Dec 2012. As it turns out, I left it a little too late to register and I missed out on a place. In retrospect, I wasn’t ready and am now glad that I didn’t get a ticket to race.
My swimming is better now than it has ever been. By that, I mean that I am more comfortable in the water than I’ve ever been and I feel like I can do the distances I require of myself without too much issue. Speed in the water is a totally separate kettle of fish.
My bike is probably (at present) the weakest it has been for a while. I really really slacked off during the winter and when I did get back on, I came off. My first proper bike crash ever. I was in a rolling paceline, I got too close to the bike in front of me, and next thing gravel rash. That was in October and it took me a couple of weeks to get back on the bike again and another couple before I really stretched out.
Still I managed to get it together in some form, and entered my first ever Olympic distance tri (1.5/40/10). Which (due to one reason or another) was a big fat DNF.
My major goal for 2012 was to complete a half ironman triathlon. An Mdot 70.3. A Long Course Tri. Call it what you will. Because I delayed, I missed out, proving that the old adage ‘you snooze, you lose’ still has some pull in the modern world.
As the new year hit, I pushed hard. I ran, I swam, I rode (“veni vedi velo”?) I clocked up a PB for the HM (1h52). I swam 2.5km for the first time ever. I started time trialling a 90km loop on the bike and began to get back to my best. And then bushfire season hit, and everything went to pot. It was 40°C+, strong winds, dry as. In those conditions, sensible people ride early morning or late evening. Unless of course, that is when you’re at work, in which case, you’re screwed.
Geelong Triathlon (aka Race Report)
Despite all the things that I saw as good excuses to pull out, last Saturday I ventured down to Geelong. Arriving in the afternoon, I racked my bike (a lone Apollo in a sea of Cervelos, Giants,Treks and Felts) and had a wander around the expo. Not having much of a budget, I passed on buying anything and checked in to my motel for the night. Nervous as, I sat down to watch a movie or two and have a quiet night in and an early night. At some point, I ducked out for some dinner (chicken, tomato and mushroom risotto). Eventually I tried to sleep, but I found myself a sweaty ball of nervous energy. My heart was racing. I started feeling nauseated. And just as I started to think I would be up all night, I crashed. I woke up four hours later. It was time to go.
I arrived, setup, suited up and got in the water. I was still nervous. I put my goggles on upside down, and couldn’t understand why they were letting in so much water when I had a warm up swim. Eventually I figured it out, with just enough time to get out and line up for the beach start.
Bang. Off. The swim went well. Sure I wasn’t the fastest and sure just about everyone passed me, but I didn’t disgrace myself. I mostly swam straight. For the most part I remembered to sight every 10-12 strokes as my coach told me to. I only strayed off course by a little bit, and I came out of the water in a shade over 46 minutes. Not earth shattering, but better than the 50minutes I’d been hoping for.
I transitioned fairly well. Slowly, but well, and I hit the bike leg confident. The course was nice. A couple of hills, some hairpins, flats and some wind that couldn’t decide which way it wanted to blow. Tailwind, crosswind, headwind – make up your f’in mind. After the first lap, I was about 5 minutes ahead of where I wanted to be and feeling very good. It didn’t last long. The wind/fatigue kicked up a notch on lap 2 and I slowly dropped back. I made the most of the course and picked up time where and when I could, but ultimately dropped back to just on behind my goal time. By the time I came into T2, I could feel the legs.
Strangely, bizarrely, I was right on track with my race plan. I’d said beforehand that I wanted to exit T2 in under 4 hours and here I was exiting T2 in 3hrs 56m. I was happy as Larry, but Larry is a prick and left me soon after that. Minutes after starting the run, I developed an ache in the back. I stopped and stretched. It went away, I started moving again and it came back. The faster I tried to go, the more it ached (almost painful), and so I slowed down. The more I slowed down, the further I fell, the more despondent I became and the more I started to doubt my own ability to finish. The mind games started (note: I’m shit at games and usually lose). I wasn’t far from giving in and then I saw that guy. If he can do it, I can do it. The pain in my back subsided. My legs were shot, so there was no chance of a speed increase, but I kept moving. Then the nips kicked in. For the first time since I started running in March 2009, my nipples chafed. So much so, that they bled. Here’s the proof.
Notice the blood. I still have scabs, FFS.
I thought the course was mildly tough, but the condition I was in made it tougher. If I had to do it again today I reckon I could go round in sub 2hrs, but on the day, the best I could manage was 2hr 28m, my slowest half marathon by over 20 minutes. At times, I reduced to a walk for a few metres here and there, and I stopped and stretched out more than once. But I did it. No thanks to the unholy 20% pinch 1500m from the end. A brutal and cruel sharply rising hairpin. But I did it.
I crossed the line nearly 25 minutes later than I’d hoped for, but I crossed the line. I finished, and I was proud and exhausted in equal measure.
I feasted on watermelon, hydrated, peed, hydrated again and collected my gear. After packing the car, and I stopped in at a café for coffee and some grub. I didn’t change my t-shirt. I wish I had. It wasn’t until after I finished my lunch that I realised I’d been bleeding. I knew I was sore, I didn’t know about the blood on my shirt. Fuck. I really wish someone had told me. I would have changed my shirt first.